USDA UNDERSECRETARY BILL NORTHEY / Photo by Lee Navin for the Des Moines Register
Hemphill County Ag Extension Agent Andy Holloway had hinted for a couple of months now that he was lining up a big name as the keynote speaker for this year’s AgriLife Beef Cattle Conference and Ag Tour, scheduled for April 24-25. He was not exaggerating.
On Monday, Holloway got word that the United States Department of Agriculture’s just-confirmed Undersecretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, had accepted his invitation to attend next month’s event here.
“Last night at 7:10 pm,” Holloway reported to The Record, “the USDA’s Joby Young, Chief of Staff for Congressional Relations, notified me that Northey would be able to come to our conference as keynote speaker.”
“This puts a national spotlight on our little beef cattle conference,” Holloway said. “It means a lot to me. We worked hard to get this done.”
With the rollout of the new federal Farm Bill, Northey’s appearance here is doubly significant. “We will have the key guy telling us what this will do to our businesses as agriculture producers,” Holloway said.
After months of delay over his confirmation, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey was finally confirmed to the top USDA post last week, and sworn into office by his new boss, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, on Tuesday, March 6, during the Annual Iowa Ag Leaders Dinner in Des Moines. Northey—a 58-year-old Spirit Lake, Iowa, farmer—had served as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture for more than 11 years.
“After months of waiting, I’m thrilled to finally have Bill on board at USDA,” Secretary Perdue said during that ceremony. “The patience he displayed throughout this process is an indicator of what kind of steady leader he will be on our team, and we are eager for him to get to work. Bill comes to us at an important time, as farm incomes are down and expected to fall further. Additionally, with work on the 2018 Farm Bill already underway, Bill will play an integral role in the advice we offer to Congress.”
Holloway had told county commissioners, late last year. that he was hoping to recruit one of the nation’s top agriculture officials to this year’s conference, suggesting that it might even be Secretary Perdue, himself.
“For six months now, we have been working through U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry’s office, with help from County Judge George Briant and Rep. Ken King, to get either Secretary Perdue or his undersecretary,” Holloway said.
Reorganization of the USDA has recently resulted in the creation of a new mission area, prompting the realignment of several agencies under a newly-named Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC), the position for which Northey is intended. FPAC will encompass the USDA’s domestic-facing agencies: the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency.
The information and expertise Northey will bring to Hemphill County next month, Holloway said, “fits like a glove into our conference.”
This week’s announcement filled in the last hole in this year’s AgriLife Beef Cattle Conference and Trade Show agenda, which will feature the following slate of speakers:
• Troy Applehans, Cattle Fax, will discuss the current numbers on the beef cattle industry and the short- and long-range outlook.
• Dr. George Perry, South Dakota State University, will address fetal development in gestating cows.
• Dr. Clay Mathis, King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management, will talk about making cowherds more efficient and profitable.
• Richard Wortham, Executive Director, Texas Beef Council, will offer an update on new research, promotion and use of the new dollar Texas Beef Producers approved two years ago.
• Dr. Morgan Russell, Adam Isaacs and Dr. Tiffany Lashmet, will anchor a panel discussion about preparing for wildfires.
• Gary Fike, Red Angus Association, will speak about the value of genetics in commercial herds, and single-step sire summary.
• Donnell Brown, RA Brown Ranch, will keynote the Tuesday evening dinner with a discussion on the changing generation of beef cattle producers, and ranch succession.
• Dr. David Lalman, OSU Animal Scientist, will offer a presentation on efficiency and matching cattle to the environment.
• Dr. Tim Steffans will offer a presentation on matching production cycles to forage quantity and quality.
• Dr. Marc Campbell, DVM, will discuss the differences between beef cow and calf wormers.
• Dr. Ted McCullum, AgriLife Beef Cattle Specialist, will talk about dusting off your drought plan.
• Roger Wann, ABS, will present information on AI, ultrasound and reproduction in heifers to enhance cowherd profitability.
In addition, tours and ranch histories will be presented by Steve Rader of Rader Ranch, and by Jim and John Haley, of the Haley Ranch. The Sons of the Pioneers will provide musical entertainment following Tuesday evening’s dinner.
Nearly 300 agriculture producers and exhibitors attended last year’s beef cattle conference, whose unofficial unifying theme was the impact of the previous month’s devastating wildfires.
TO LEARN MORE:
More information is available online at https://www.hemphillcotxbeef.com/. The Canadian Record will provide additional information in upcoming editions, as well as publishing
post-conference coverage of the event.